Over Firing a Steam Locomotive?

 
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
Thanks guys, as I suspected.

Sponsored advertisement

  Duffy Chief Commissioner

Location: ACT
Regardless of what may have been done in the Railway days, firing 3016 (30t) with a bank is nothing short of a waste of coal, as it invariably leads to its screaming its head off against the injector.
Even running a full load to Bungendore, a flat fire does the job fine and with a lot more control.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Regardless of what may have been done in the Railway days, firing 3016 (30t) with a bank is nothing short of a waste of coal, as it invariably leads to its screaming its head off against the injector.
Even running a full load to Bungendore, a flat fire does the job fine and with a lot more control.
Duffy
The point being?   What I was referring to in all the discussion on this topic relates to how to fire when a loco was working full loads and in regular service.  While I may have not mentioned 3016 in its own right, I mentioned the 32cl that are/were in heritage working were fired with door shut after the firing sequence, and at best they had a minimal bank in them same as 3642, the other aspect is what is the load that 3016 take, also on the Bengendore trips does it have a diesel on the back just in case?

To say that having more control with a flat fire if its a full load beggars belief or that there is not a lot of understanding on how to fire with a bank, also what sort of speed is the train running at?
  hbedriver Junior Train Controller

Agreed, a6et. All my work is usually on locos with at least 75% loads, been a long time since I have fired a loco with less than 50% load. You could fire flat with a light load, but any sort of work and the loco needs a good bank, certainly in the back. Put a loco on 100% of full goods load and it actually gets easier, the draft does the hard work for you, just fire the rear and chase the white spots if needed. One of my teachers decades ago claimed that "the harder you push them, the better they go", and many times I have seen how right he was.

I did see the fireman on a 10 class firing flat and light around 40 years ago, but that was only on the downhill from Stockrington colliery to Hexham. He probably could have used paper; the most use of the steam was for the loco's air brakes (none on the wagons of course).

I note that different coals have different requirements. Good Maitland /Pelton / Hunter Valley coal tends to get fired thinner, but still thicker at the back. The Blair Athol coal they use at Puffing Billy can be fired heavy, getting it on early and letting it cook, but even that coal does OK when light and often. Both styles still rely on thicker at the back. Main line steam this year in Victoria (4 locos I've been on), you keep the fire perhaps 4 inches thick at the front, much thicker at the back, look for the smoke. Ideally the front is basically light ashes at the end of the trip, so easy to knock the fire out. The back is by then little more than glowing coals. But then again, I'm horribly lazy!

Have only fired flat on light loads, such as a light engine. If you have the safety valves lifting against the injector on the 30T, it seems that either the load is light or you are using rocket fuel...can I have some?
  a6et Minister for Railways

Agreed, a6et. All my work is usually on locos with at least 75% loads, been a long time since I have fired a loco with less than 50% load. You could fire flat with a light load, but any sort of work and the loco needs a good bank, certainly in the back. Put a loco on 100% of full goods load and it actually gets easier, the draft does the hard work for you, just fire the rear and chase the white spots if needed. One of my teachers decades ago claimed that "the harder you push them, the better they go", and many times I have seen how right he was.

I did see the fireman on a 10 class firing flat and light around 40 years ago, but that was only on the downhill from Stockrington colliery to Hexham. He probably could have used paper; the most use of the steam was for the loco's air brakes (none on the wagons of course).

I note that different coals have different requirements. Good Maitland /Pelton / Hunter Valley coal tends to get fired thinner, but still thicker at the back. The Blair Athol coal they use at Puffing Billy can be fired heavy, getting it on early and letting it cook, but even that coal does OK when light and often. Both styles still rely on thicker at the back. Main line steam this year in Victoria (4 locos I've been on), you keep the fire perhaps 4 inches thick at the front, much thicker at the back, look for the smoke. Ideally the front is basically light ashes at the end of the trip, so easy to knock the fire out. The back is by then little more than glowing coals. But then again, I'm horribly lazy!

Have only fired flat on light loads, such as a light engine. If you have the safety valves lifting against the injector on the 30T, it seems that either the load is light or you are using rocket fuel...can I have some?
hbedriver
I cannot emphasis enough regarding the differences between heritage type operations which generally are under loaded and in many cases has a diesel on the rear end assisting, which in itself is interesting as pushing up passenger trains was not on, the only instance I can think of is the use (IIRC based on what is found in records) of 13class somewhere on the NCL on mail trains, Lawrence Road rings a bell.

With the 30T's especially the superheated loco's they shared the same load as the saturated 30T, something somewhat different between saturated Standard Goods engines compared to the superheated loco's, but the super 30T was more than capable of working to 32cl loads and conditions, on both goods and Passenger train.

The laying of fires generally needed an even fire on flat grates, but there were exceptions, and one reason why a banking of the fire was employed was with the old ratchet/inward opening firehole door, was that it helped to keep down the amount of cold air being drawn into the firebox, those engines again the standard goods engines meant you not only had to shovel the coal into the box but also open and shut the door between each shovel full, that added a degree of extra work on the fireman especially on lines where the grades were long, good case is the Short South as when you pass Maldon you were basically uphill all the way to Bowral and Exeter except for the reconditiong at Moss Vale and the dip ex MV to Werai.  If you had a good driver he would work the door for you as you concentrated on the firing.

You mention 75% loads, that was a common working in many areas as in the case of the western line past Lithgow when the amount of 36cl were working the area and standard goods engines were replaced by the pigs, the later could not haul the same load as the freighters, what took place was the widening of the 75% (or 3 quarter running trains) and most trains were tabled on those conditions, it meant no matter whether a pig or freighter was rostered, the load was the same, be it single or double loads, and the speed of the train was faster running sectional times which were made to the 36cl times of approx. 16-18MPH as against the 8-10MPH for the freighter on a full load, on the grades, flat/undulating lines etc.

Where does the coal called Blair Athol originate from?  In the late 60's I visited QLD where steam was still operating and the crews up there raved over a coal either by the same name or could have been Blue Athol.
  GrahamH Chief Commissioner

Location: At a terminal on the www.
Blair Athol is in Qld. https://binged.it/2jnlytN   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blair_Athol_coal_mine

I remember a photo in a book, looking back at a 13cl which had just dropped back from pushing a passenger train. It was all bush around the line and I have a vague recollection of it being the climb North of Coffs, but I could be mistaken.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Blair Athol is in Qld. https://binged.it/2jnlytN   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blair_Athol_coal_mine

I remember a photo in a book, looking back at a 13cl which had just dropped back from pushing a passenger train. It was all bush around the line and I have a vague recollection of it being the climb North of Coffs, but I could be mistaken.
GrahamH
Thanks Graham, long way to bring coal but must be worth it.

I think the location was somewhere near Lawrence Road, could be wrong though, and that particular photo is the one I was referring to.
  hbedriver Junior Train Controller

Most heritage workings in Victoria use the steam only. Rare to see a diesel, and then often for other reasons. One example was the Swan Hill/Echuca weekender back in June, little K190 had a T class at the back. The combined load was well above a T class load, closer to 80% of combined power on the long 1:50 towards Bendigo. Beyond they could get away with the K only, they were about 50% of full goods load. None of my steam jobs this year (around 8 all up) have had a diesel loco to assist; I often wonder why they so often seem to do so in NSW on what appears to be light loads (4 or 5 cars). As insurance perhaps, but then you wonder how well maintained the steam loco is, or competence of crews; perhaps you know more than I. Convenience for push-pull operations makes sense; hopefully they let the steam do the work. From what I've seen, the 59 runs solo, hopefully 3801 will when let out again. Even the Maitland Steam Fest seems to be 4 or 5 cars with a steam loco one end, diesel the other on fairly flat country.
  apw5910 Chief Train Controller

Location: Location: Location.
I think the diesel at the other end is mainly to avoid the kettle having to run around its train and running tender first leading on the return journey, with a severe speed restricion. Saves time, and some places don't even have loops for running around any more. And there are very few turntables left.

Btw, can someone please clarify for me if a steam loco running tender first, even at the back of the train, still limits the whole train to 40 kph?

And speaking of over-firing, is "Bargo Bill" still with us?
  a6et Minister for Railways

I think the diesel at the other end is mainly to avoid the kettle having to run around its train and running tender first leading on the return journey, with a severe speed restricion. Saves time, and some places don't even have loops for running around any more. And there are very few turntables left.

Btw, can someone please clarify for me if a steam loco running tender first, even at the back of the train, still limits the whole train to 40 kph?

And speaking of over-firing, is "Bargo Bill" still with us?
apw5910
With steamfest I do not think there is any locations that they run to that has run round facilities, especially into Ncle from Maitland, I would believe that it would be possible to run round at Branxton and where it goes to on the Coast line, I would think that the reason for it is to get assured pathways for the trains as any small delay could throw the whole day into problems.

There has been several occasions where a diesel was used at the rear when the load for the steamer was close to the old full loads, the diesel provides a degree of insurance if the steamer runs into problems. The LVR 32cl has run by itself over various areas but usually with a short load so no issues should be encountered.

One of the things I found in the last days of steam even out of Enfield prior to the fall of steam on goods working to Glbn was that of lack of time working steam took its toll on crews especially on the bat, heading to Glbn you would go through around 12ton of coal on a pig, a bit less on a 38 and less again on a 59. In 68/69 the NSWGR placed senior locomotive inspectors at Bargo for the night time down procession of steam hauled services, they were there to help where and if required, especially with the 36cl as they were more problematic than the others.  Few if any of the trains were less than full loads and usually in length as well.

How long has it been since a 38 has been in service? I am now some months over 70 and not sure if I would like to pick the shovel up on 3801, and many of those who worked them would not be much younger than I am, although some did work them as seen in some of Bevans videos, but those on them also were the primary ones who worked them most of the time, but sadly Ian Thornton is now passed away and he is a big loss in that area as well.
  Lockspike Train Controller

Blair Athol is in Qld. https://binged.it/2jnlytN   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blair_Athol_coal_mine

I remember a photo in a book, looking back at a 13cl which had just dropped back from pushing a passenger train. It was all bush around the line and I have a vague recollection of it being the climb North of Coffs, but I could be mistaken.
GrahamH
IIRC, that photo is in Ron Preston's "Tender into Tank".
  a6et Minister for Railways

Blair Athol is in Qld. https://binged.it/2jnlytN   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blair_Athol_coal_mine

I remember a photo in a book, looking back at a 13cl which had just dropped back from pushing a passenger train. It was all bush around the line and I have a vague recollection of it being the climb North of Coffs, but I could be mistaken.
IIRC, that photo is in Ron Preston's "Tender into Tank".
Lockspike
Its also in another book, could be a Byways.
  GrahamH Chief Commissioner

Location: At a terminal on the www.
Blair Athol is in Qld. https://binged.it/2jnlytN   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blair_Athol_coal_mine

I remember a photo in a book, looking back at a 13cl which had just dropped back from pushing a passenger train. It was all bush around the line and I have a vague recollection of it being the climb North of Coffs, but I could be mistaken.
IIRC, that photo is in Ron Preston's "Tender into Tank".
Lockspike
You are correct. The info for the photo states 'Assist in the rear to 458m'. This corresponds to the Kms on NSWRail site for Lawrance Road so a6et is correct too.
  c3526blue Deputy Commissioner

Location: in the cuckoos nest
Agreed, a6et. All my work is usually on locos with at least 75% loads, been a long time since I have fired a loco with less than 50% load. You could fire flat with a light load, but any sort of work and the loco needs a good bank, certainly in the back. Put a loco on 100% of full goods load and it actually gets easier, the draft does the hard work for you, just fire the rear and chase the white spots if needed. One of my teachers decades ago claimed that "the harder you push them, the better they go", and many times I have seen how right he was.

I did see the fireman on a 10 class firing flat and light around 40 years ago, but that was only on the downhill from Stockrington colliery to Hexham. He probably could have used paper; the most use of the steam was for the loco's air brakes (none on the wagons of course).

I note that different coals have different requirements. Good Maitland /Pelton / Hunter Valley coal tends to get fired thinner, but still thicker at the back. The Blair Athol coal they use at Puffing Billy can be fired heavy, getting it on early and letting it cook, but even that coal does OK when light and often. Both styles still rely on thicker at the back. Main line steam this year in Victoria (4 locos I've been on), you keep the fire perhaps 4 inches thick at the front, much thicker at the back, look for the smoke. Ideally the front is basically light ashes at the end of the trip, so easy to knock the fire out. The back is by then little more than glowing coals. But then again, I'm horribly lazy!

Have only fired flat on light loads, such as a light engine. If you have the safety valves lifting against the injector on the 30T, it seems that either the load is light or you are using rocket fuel...can I have some?
I cannot emphasis enough regarding the differences between heritage type operations which generally are under loaded and in many cases has a diesel on the rear end assisting, which in itself is interesting as pushing up passenger trains was not on, the only instance I can think of is the use (IIRC based on what is found in records) of 13class somewhere on the NCL on mail trains, Lawrence Road rings a bell.

With the 30T's especially the superheated loco's they shared the same load as the saturated 30T, something somewhat different between saturated Standard Goods engines compared to the superheated loco's, but the super 30T was more than capable of working to 32cl loads and conditions, on both goods and Passenger train.

The laying of fires generally needed an even fire on flat grates, but there were exceptions, and one reason why a banking of the fire was employed was with the old ratchet/inward opening firehole door, was that it helped to keep down the amount of cold air being drawn into the firebox, those engines again the standard goods engines meant you not only had to shovel the coal into the box but also open and shut the door between each shovel full, that added a degree of extra work on the fireman especially on lines where the grades were long, good case is the Short South as when you pass Maldon you were basically uphill all the way to Bowral and Exeter except for the reconditiong at Moss Vale and the dip ex MV to Werai.  If you had a good driver he would work the door for you as you concentrated on the firing.

You mention 75% loads, that was a common working in many areas as in the case of the western line past Lithgow when the amount of 36cl were working the area and standard goods engines were replaced by the pigs, the later could not haul the same load as the freighters, what took place was the widening of the 75% (or 3 quarter running trains) and most trains were tabled on those conditions, it meant no matter whether a pig or freighter was rostered, the load was the same, be it single or double loads, and the speed of the train was faster running sectional times which were made to the 36cl times of approx. 16-18MPH as against the 8-10MPH for the freighter on a full load, on the grades, flat/undulating lines etc.

Where does the coal called Blair Athol originate from?  In the late 60's I visited QLD where steam was still operating and the crews up there raved over a coal either by the same name or could have been Blue Athol.
a6et
Hi a6et,

The rear banking of a passenger train in NSW during the steam era was most unusual.  The only instance I know of was the bank at Lawrence Road on the North Coast.  There is a photo and description of one such occurrence using a Z13 as the pushup engine in the book "Tender into Tank" by Ron Preston.

Happy shovelling,

John
  a6et Minister for Railways

Hi a6et,

The rear banking of a passenger train in NSW during the steam era was most unusual.  The only instance I know of was the bank at Lawrence Road on the North Coast.  There is a photo and description of one such occurrence using a Z13 as the pushup engine in the book "Tender into Tank" by Ron Preston.

Happy shovelling,

John
c3526blue
The banking of passenger trains in steam times was in affect not permitted except for that case on the NCL.

I would see the reason its allowed these days is somewhat for convenience but also owing to the aspect that all the general heritage fleet consist of heavy passenger rolling stock, rather than how it was in steam days with a high number of older carriages in use.

If a failure of the train engine for some reason or other happened they had to wait for assistance from the closest station/signal box, thing is I do not recollect anything in the safe working that permitted a passenger train to be divided if the engine failed through inability to haul the load, all assisting of passenger trains was done at the front.

Thing is with the 13 class as well, is that they were a very light loco so were unlikely to have issues with the carriages.  All this is supposition on my part though as its the only case where it happened.

One would have to look in the respective General Appendix's and or the working timetables that would set out specific conditions and permissions.  

Some time back I was going through a 1965 Western Working TT and found two very interesting items there regarding locomotives hauling passenger trains, the first was for the Forbes mail between Parkes and Forbes, the notations were that the train had to be hauled by a 36cl with automatic draw gear on the tender, if a non auto fitted engine was not available then one fitted with a drawhook could be used providing suitable drawgear was on the train.  Don't ask the definition of the suitable is, I can only remember working on 2 pigs with the auto on the tender.

The other item was that locomotives fitted with swing type couplings on the tender were not to be worked on passenger trains.

That I would think would have primarily applied to when SG engines were employed but, how would that have affected a 35cl with Turret tender?
  Spinner5711 Train Controller

Gotta remember the Camden Line too.  Two locos up front, one in the rear.  End platform suburban cars with screw or close couplings (depending on independent carriages or fixed sets) and timber underframes.  I suspect part of this was to facilitate the direct return to Campbelltown.

I seem to remember that there's a third place in NSW where passenger trains were pushed, I can't think of where at present.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Gotta remember the Camden Line too.  Two locos up front, one in the rear.  End platform suburban cars with screw or close couplings (depending on independent carriages or fixed sets) and timber underframes.  I suspect part of this was to facilitate the direct return to Campbelltown.

I seem to remember that there's a third place in NSW where passenger trains were pushed, I can't think of where at present.
Spinner5711
Good call Spinner, one I forgot
  neillfarmer Junior Train Controller

I am told by one who is in high authority is that in steam days the couplings were hook and screw with buffers taking any run ins. In recent times all the passenger stock is auto coupled. I think there were two problems with screw couplings and buffers, one being there was the danger of buffer lock (one buffer slipping past its mate) and there was a prevalence of wooden bodied cars with weaker underframes. I'm really stretching the memory, but I think that passengers riding in the guards vans of trains that were being pushed had to sign an indemnity.
Neill Farmer
  a6et Minister for Railways

I am told by one who is in high authority is that in steam days the couplings were hook and screw with buffers taking any run ins. In recent times all the passenger stock is auto coupled. I think there were two problems with screw couplings and buffers, one being there was the danger of buffer lock (one buffer slipping past its mate) and there was a prevalence of wooden bodied cars with weaker underframes. I'm really stretching the memory, but I think that passengers riding in the guards vans of trains that were being pushed had to sign an indemnity.
Neill Farmer
neillfarmer
Coupling to screw link equipped vehicles was never a real issue if it was done correctly, be it on pax or goods vehicles.

Hook equipped pax carriages and freight vehicles had a screw link as part of the hook arrangement, when a locomotive was attached and for that matter same as when carriages were attached to each other, the method of coupling was to have the buffer heads just touching when brakes released.'

What that meant was the fireman or shunter would  wind the screw out to a longer length to make it easy to lift over the respective hook, the danger part was on a passenger train he had to wave the engine back to just short of the carriage go under the buffers, push up any fall plate on the carriage and then crouch between engine and carriage on the drivers side between hook and buffer, lift the screw coupling by the rear end of the link to be used over the carriage hook, bring the engine back onto the carriages by calling out Ease UP for the driver.

As the engine moved back the link was thrown over the hook, and a call out of stop, in reality the driver would feel the pressure onto the carriage and stop the engine from further movement.  The link once over. had the D link that was in the hooks shaft was dropped over the screws link to hold down, brake pipes connected and taps open, then go out and watch that the buffers when the carriages brakes were released would sag back, either because of grade or the pressure of the buffers being compressed being taken off.  Both buffers had to have either no slack or minimal slack and the link itself tight, if not you had to go back under, get another ease up and tighten the screw.

If the links were loose it would cause rough riding in the carriages owing to surging of the carriages against each other and/or the loco. Not only that if not properly tightened there could be a snapping of the hook and draft gear part, with it being pulled out.

I would believe the reason we do not see the cowboy set out in traffic anymore is because of the old couplings and the frame as well.  But others may know the reason more than me.

Bare in mind that the buffers on hook equipped vehicles were larger than auto vehicles.  When the 59cl went to Bathurst for bank engine working they had the front buffers increased in diameter as they were not as large as the other loco's, the original buffers caused locking on some BV types.

Something else with couplings, is that in comparison to more modern R/S that seem to not have any real compression in them, as I could remember such wagons as NDY and newer wagons it was like hitting a steel wall when coupling up, there seemed to be no give in them, watching trains pass at Wyong with these types of vehicles (not just NDY's but other modern vehicles as well) there is a lot of banging between the vehicles and some of sagging evident that is quite loud.  

Older rolling stock especially passenger vehicles with hooks had compression like springs at the end of their shaft, that also seemed to be found on the older auto equipped vehicles as well, even a hard couple up that was sometimes needed to close an auto's jaw did not have the same impact as the later vehicles.

Sponsored advertisement

Subscribers: a6et, bevans, troublegrub

Display from: